Girls Day Out
By: Herb "OldGoat" Townsend | Reads: 655
Wind was torn. She had just finished her last day of school and the time to determine her future was upon her, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to choose which direction she wanted to go. The Vigil, with it’s military organization, the Priory with it’s research, or the Order of Whispers, with it’s secrets - each had a draw. But which path was right for her?
She knew her father was in the Vigil and he would be proud of her to join him. Her mother was a Priory researcher and she could see herself following in those footsteps as well. The Order of Whispers was secretive, but she knew just enough to make her curious. The thoughts kept running through her head. She’d been trying to decide during her entire last two years of school.
She told her parents she was going to spend the day in Divinity’s Reach to try and clear her head. As she started to leave, her mother took her aside and said, “This is your decision and yours alone. You have to figure out what you want. I know it’s difficult, it was for me, too. But whatever choice you make, know that we love you and want you to be happy.”
“Thanks, mom, I know. It’s just so hard to make up my mind. I don’t know which path I’ll succeed at.”
“We were waiting for the right moment, and I think this might be it.” Her mom reached up on a shelf and brought out a long package, wrapped beautifully with ribbons and colored paper.
“What’s this?” Wind asked.
“We were going to surprise you tonight with a party, but I think you need to take the next few days for yourself. This is your graduation present.”
Her father joined them with a smile and nodded to her to go ahead.
Wind carefully unwrapped the beautiful paper and put the ribbons aside. Inside the package was the most beautiful longbow she had ever seen. It glowed with iridescent colors that seemed to move with the light. Pulling her pack out of the corner, she removed a bowstring she had been working on and tied it on the new longbow.
Turning to her parents, she hugged them. The bow instantly had become her favorite. She was a good ranger and had been hunting since she was a child. This was not a hunting bow, this was a fighting bow and would come in handy no matter which path she chose.
“Now go,” her father said, “go clear your mind and figure out what you want to do, if you ever grow up.”
“Careful, she might end up like you and never grow up,” her mother answered.
“Well, then she fits right in this family.”
With that, there were hugs all around again, thanks given, and a quick single whistle. Suddenly, Whisper, Wind’s feline pet appeared and the two headed north towards Divinity’s Reach.
* * *
Maggie was working at her crafting table. The sweat was running down her face and neck. It was way hotter than normal for this time of year. She suddenly realized she was done. Finished with working on her Wintersday presents, finished working on that special staff for her beloved Terri, and she was finished with Divinity's Reach.
Tossing her tools into their bag, she slammed down the cover of the table and walked out. Terri, seeing her walking away, dropped what she was doing and followed her out of the building.
"What's the matter?" she asked.
"It's too hot to work like this, I'm going to take a day off." Was Maggie's reply.
"What are you going to do?"
"Well, they say Jormag is raising a ruckus up in the northern mountains, I'm thinking at least it's cooler there and the air is cleaner."
"That sounds like an adventure, want company?"
Maggie looked at Terri's mischievous smile and said cautiously, "Yes, well maybe, who?"
And so began the now famous, Girl's Day Out...
* * *
The first to join them was Berry. A sylvari Mesmer, she had accompanied them on the trip to Divinity’s Reach to work on some crafting of her own. “A dragon sounds like just the thing to work out some anger issues,” was her reply when Terri asked her. The three of them looked at each other and burst out almost in unison, “Frieda!”
“Electra’s on her second honeymoon with Bones. Who can we get to take her place?” Berry asked.
“I’m not asking Harry. We had so much fun when it was just us girls, I thought we’d do it again,” Maggie replied, her mood obviously lightened.
Terri spied a friend from the Shaemoor Village, LastWindWarrior, affectionately known as Wind, and her pet, Whisper. As Wind was petting her cat on the crate they were sharing, Terri asked her pointedly, "Hey, wanna do me a favor? It's girls day out and we're short one ranger, you up for it?"
Wind stroked Whisper slowly. A smile of mischief slowly crept onto her face.
"Well..." as though she didn’t want to go. Then the smile widened. "I don't believe the word no is in my vocabulary,"
As the girls sat and discussed the plan, Maggie’s mother and father appeared in a wagon coming to take them home for supper. Maggie stood and walked to the wagon and began talking quietly with her mother. She then motioned for the rest of the girls to join them and they all climbed into the wagon and began the short trip to the house in Shaemoor Village.
As Willem drove the wagon, Frieda joined them in the back of the wagon as they began to plan their outing.
“We’ll be leaving at first light, that should get us to Frostgorge sound before lunch. Once we’re there, we’ll find the best place to launch our attack.” Maggie said.
“We’re not going to have Bones to patch us up if we get hurt, we’ll have to be more cautious.” Terri replied.
“I’ve got some healing spirits I can bring,” whispered Wind.
“That’s perfect, and I can keep some spells going to protect us, as well. We should be fine,” Frieda added.
They continued planning right up to when they reached the front door, then the smell of karka stew and cornbread distracted them. They spent the next half hour devouring the feast the cook had prepared. Pushing away from the table, Maggie looked at Wind and asked, “Can you spend the night, so we can get an early start in the morning? You can stay in the guest room.”
“I’ll have to run home and tell my parents and pick up my pack” was the young girl’s reply.
Terri added, “I’ll go with you, I’ve got some vegetables from the garden that I promised your mother. This will be a perfect time to deliver them.”
* * *
That night, they all sat around the living room into the late hours finalizing plans for the next day. They decided they would pack up before daylight and leave as soon as it was light enough outside to see. Finally Maggie looked over at Wind and noticed the girl was nodding off.
“It’s time for us to get some sleep, there are only a few hours until we leave,” she said.
With that, everyone headed for bed. Terri walked Wind to her room and as they said good night, Wind asked, “Are we really going to kill a dragon tomorrow?”
“Yes, we are.” Terri smiled in return.
It took very little time for them all to get to sleep, but even so, morning came quickly and no one was ready for it. Berry woke up first, went to each of their rooms and knocked quietly saying “it’s time.”
Quickly, they gathered their gear and came down to the kitchen where breakfast was already laid out. The cook had been busy it seemed, cooking ham, eggs, potatoes, and a special breakfast pie that was her own secret recipe.
They ate on the sun porch so they could watch the first light beginning to show far off in the east. After breakfast, everyone loaded the wagon. With Maggie and Terri in the front seat, and everyone else piled in the back, they drove off toward Divinity’s Reach on the first leg of their journey.
Berry, Frieda, and Wind were in the back of the wagon and chattering away about the upcoming adventure. They almost didn’t notice the change in the air temperature when the wagon passed through the portal to Hoelbrak. A cool breeze brought a chill and Terri climbed into the back to grab jackets for herself and Maggie.
From Hoelbrak they traveled east then north through the Wayfarer Foothills until they found themselves entering Frostgorge Sound. A short way in and to the east, they found an encampment of Vigil soldiers. Maggie stopped the wagon and jumped down to walk up to the obvious person in charge and said, “Quartermaster Thraeingr, I haven’t seen you in nearly a year. Considering the heat around the rest of Tyria, you must be enjoying the cool, clear air around here.”
“Yes ma’am we’re just here to keep Jormag from getting through to Wayfarer Foothills. The Norns are nervous that from there, he can get to Hoelbrak. Once he’s been taken care of, we’ll resupply any Vigil companies that come back this way.”
“How’s the road between here and there?” she asked him pointedly.
“Nonexistent. Everyone walks from here. The next safe place is Elder’s Vale. It’s an hours march,” he replied. “Most of the Vigil troops are going through the ice caves. They come out about halfway between Elder’s Vale and Frostwalk Tundra
“Hmm, we’ll need a place to park the wagon and maybe a map?”
“You could park it over there, turn the horses loose in the pasture. We’ll feed and water them with our own. I’ll keep an eye on them myself, Captain. I don’t have a map, but there’s a dolyak train leaving in an hour. If you join them, in return for protection, they’ll get you through the caves.”
“That sounds good, thanks. I’ll bring you back a piece of the dragon’s hide.”
Smiling the Quartermaster snapped to salute and said, “Yes ma'am.”
He turned and barked a few orders, after everyone removed their equipment from the wagon, two soldiers parked it in an out of the way spot within sight of the Quartermaster’s post.
It was nearly lunch time so Berry found a secluded spot and built a small fire to heat water for coffee. Frieda joined her and they began laying out a light picnic.
Wind could barely contain her excitement and burst out, “It’s really happening! I was talking to one of the soldiers and he saw the dragon yesterday. He said it was bigger than a house.”
Maggie sat down and waved at everyone to join her. “Eat up,” she said. “We’ve got less than an hour before we’ll be moving out and heading for the ice caves.”
Everyone finished quickly, then helped Berry clean up. They put on their packs joined the dolyak train and left camp travelling north and west up a very steep climb. They settled into a swift march and Wind began to sing. It was an uplifting song she had learned as a child, with a steady powerful beat that helped them all to keep in step. Soon, Maggie joined her and as they sang together, everyone gained speed and enough strength to finish the climb.
Once they reached the summit, they found a spring-fed stream and followed it down the other side. Soon they could see the ice caves ahead of them. In the dimness, Maggie could make out the outlines of a few ice trolls and drakes.
“We’ll rest here and catch our breath. Ready your weapons, we’re going to need to fight our way through this mess,” Maggie ordered.
Wind asked her, “Is that how the Vigil does it? Always prepare before the battle?”
“Yes, when we can. Sometimes we get surprised, but we like to be organized and ready for anything,” Maggie answered.
After a few minutes, with Maggie leading the way, the group entered the caves. They fought hard and quickly overcame all that stood in their way, but it was slow struggle through the icy cavel. Finally they noticed the slope had turned upwards, a sign that they were nearly at the end of the trail.
They stumbled into a Champion Snow Troll guarding a large treasure chest. He attacked immediately with a frosty touch that knocked them down and stole their breath. Frieda recovered first and enclosed him in a giant feedback dome so his every attack was reflected back as she helped the others get on their feet.
Terri set fire to the snow around the troll, Maggie pulled out her bow and pinned him down so he couldn’t escape. Berry created a phantasm that attacked directly. Wind set traps all around his feet. Frieda finished him off with spatial surge from her greatsword. They spent the next few minutes resting and going through the treasure chest.
They travelled on, fighting their way through the trolls until they could see daylight ahead once again. They had made it to the other side of the ice caves and could hear the Claw of Jormag screaming from the mountaintop. It was almost time. They would need to hurry to reach their destination and join the fight. They began to run again. This time the run was silent, as each of them prepared mentally for the upcoming battle.
* * *
They found a Vigil soldier manning a large cannon that was shooting bolts into the sky above the battlefield. Behind them, a sergeant was barking orders. Maggie stepped up to him and asked, “Can you give me a report, sergeant?”
“Yes ma'am, we’re spreading energy. The technology came from the Priory. I’m not sure how it all works, but they told us that doing this would bring the dragon down so we can fight it. Otherwise it just keeps flying around attacking where it wants.”
Wind asked, “You guys work with the Priory?”
“Absolutely, we also work with The Order of Whispers. We’re called the Pact. We all work together, or at least, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Not sure if I trust the Whispers.”
Frieda piped in, winking toward Terri, “I’d trust them with my life. They’ve never failed to protect me.”
“I hope you’re right, ma'am. It’s just that whole ‘everything’s a secret’ part that gives me the willies.” He smiled back.
At that moment, the Claw of Jormag screamed, a most horrible gut-wrenching sound, followed by cannon fire.
“I’d get ready, ma'am, the fight’s about to start,” the sergeant shouted.
They looked over the battlefield quickly and Maggie pointed at an area near the top of the hill. She shouted to them to grab the Charzookas in the weapon stand near the cannons. Leading the way, she took them to an outcropping of rock and they all kneeled behind the largest boulders and waited for the dragon to land.
They didn’t have long to wait. When the dragon landed, he immediately blasted them with his frozen breath, then put out walls of ice to block their attack. Maggie and the others fired the Charzookas at the ice wall and in a few moments had it destroyed. Switching to their own weapons, the group charged straight up at the dragon.
He was huge, taller than most buildings. He threw ice shards at them as they approached. Dodging and zig zagging back and forth, they were able to get within range and began their attack. Wind fired arrow after arrow as her pet Whisper attacked the dragon’s front feet. Maggie unleashed her axes and hacked away beside Whisper. Terri threw flame balls at the dragon’s eyes. Frieda shielded them with medic’s feedback bubbles, and with Berry’s help, those bubbles lasted twice as long and deflected twice as much of his icy breath.
The dragon drew himself up and seemed to regain some energy and began to fight stronger and more ferocious. Maggie shouted for them all to fall back to the rocks and pick up the Charzookas again. As she turned to join them, the dragon’s foot came crashing down behind her, the vibration of the landing knocked her off her feet.
As Maggie went down, Wind grabbed her axe and jumped into the fight. With one mighty downward chop, she severed the dragon’s toe. The beast pulled back it’s foot, screaming in agony while Terri, Frieda and Berry grabbed Maggie by the arms and drug her out of danger. Wind reached down and with both hands picked up the bloody claw and they all ran back to the rocks.
“Thanks kiddo.” Maggie said to Wind. “That was as nice of a ‘hack job’ as I’ve ever seen.”
“Any time, I couldn’t let him finish you. Besides, Berry said it’s your turn to do the dishes,” the young ranger replied with a grin.
They each picked up the Charzookas again and fired into the crystals between them and the Claw of Jormag. Soon the path was clear and they went back on the attack. The dragon had stopped and tried to fly away. The cannons let loose a huge volley and drove him back into the ground.
This time when he came down, the Pact began sending golems carrying explosives into the fight. Maggie and her friends dropped the Charzookas and began the short run to the west where the dragon had landed and was now fighting for his life. As they neared the battle, they could see both wings had been damaged and the creature could no longer fly.
Ice elementals threw down fields of ice that slowed their progress and threatened to freeze them in place. Soon they were protecting the golems from the elementals and gradually working their way towards the new battleground. Eventually, they were close enough to attack directly, and they put everything they had into it, knowing this was their last chance.
Berry and Frieda cast medic’s feedback around them again. Maggie and Wind unleashed their bows while Terri attacked with fire and air spells. Relentlessly they pounded Jormag’s Claw until it finally fell dead upon the ice and the cheering began.
Exhausted, the women all sat down right where they were standing, not paying any attention to the snow and ice. Wind looked at them all and said, “Thank you, guys, this has been the most intense thing I’ve ever done. I would never have thought about doing this without your encouragement.”
Frieda smiled and told her, “You did a pretty good job of protecting Maggie back there. Give yourself some credit too. The Priory could use someone with your intelligence. When we get home, if you’re interested, I’ll write a letter of recommendation.”
* * *
They joked and talked about the fight on the uneventful trip home. A bond had been formed between them that would last a lifetime. As promised, Maggie delivered a piece of the dragon’s hide to the quartermaster when they stopped to get the wagon. They had taken turns carrying both the hide and Wind’s dragon claw trophy.
“I know a good taxidermist in Divinity’s Reach, I’ll send him a message and find out how he feels about stuffing that toe.” Terri said.
“Thanks, I’d like that. This is for my father, I want him to be proud of me,” Wind answered.
“I think he already is, I heard it in his voice when he was bragging about how well you’ve done in school.” Terri smiled.
It was very late when they finally reached the house in Shaemoor Village. Berry woke up the groom to help with the horses. They went inside and found a wonderful supper waiting for them at the table. After they had eaten their fill, Maggie took Wind aside and handed her a sealed envelope.
“This is a letter of recommendation for the Vigil. While I could never guarantee a position in the Vigil, I believe that General Soulkeeper will find the contents interesting enough to give you a tryout. After seeing your courage and seeing how you fought, I think the Vigil would be very lucky to have you.”
“Thank you so much.” Wind answered with a blush and ducked her head.
The group talked long into the night, telling the stories over and over of the fight they had all been a part of. Finally, as the sun began to shine into the eastern windows, Terri stood up and said, “Come on Wind, I’ll walk you home, and you can tell your parents all about our Girls Day Out.”
As they walked toward Wind’s house, Terri pulled an envelope out of her pocket and handed it to Wind. “Here, this letter is a secret, and you can’t tell anyone I gave it to you. But, should you decide you want to join us at the Order of Whispers, ask to see Kushie and give her this from me..”
Incredulous, Wind replied, “You’re a Whispers Agent? I never would have known.”
Terri simply put her fingers to her lips and smiled, shaking her head.
“I get it, Shhhhhhhh,” the young girl replied.
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Herb "OldGoat" Townsend
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